Scouting is intended to be a way for kids to expand their horizons, to try new things, to learn a thing or two about themselves.
Scouting can be magical
Sometimes it works its magic on the parents, too.
“While I’ve always enjoyed being outside I never really went out of my way to hike or camp,” says Biju Thomas of Cary. Growing up in the Detroit area, his family wasn’t exactly outdoorsy. What camping he did do as a kid was through class trips in grade school.
So when Biju’s son expressed an interest in scouting recently, Biju’s interest was piqued.
“Everything in Cub Scouts is family-centric and a parent is expected to do the activities with their scout. The pack we joined does a hike each month and two camping trips per year. For us, these have become great father/son bonding activities and I find hiking and camping are things I really enjoy.”
So much so that this spring Biju decided to expand beyond the monthly pack hike. That included a Hike NC hike at Little River Regional Park in May, as well as several Meetup hikes.
Meeting up to build a village
“I’ve been joining Meetups that look like they are at a skill level I can do but will still push me a little out of my comfort zone. Right now that means increasing distance and later maybe trails that are a little more strenuous or technical.”
Hiking with a group has several advantages, says Biju.
“It puts you with people that can give pointers and show you the ropes,” he says. Also, he adds, having a set time and place, “sets in my mind that I am going to go do this at this time and makes me carve out the time to do it.”
In addition to the 3-mile hikes with his son, Biju has done 5- and 7-mile hikes and has signed up for a 12-miler.
“During a hike where I am pushing out of my comfort zone I’m wondering if this was a good idea,” he says. “After the hike, I feel great, like I just accomplished something.” The group hikes also let him scout out hikes he can do with his son.
Another plus to hiking? The “peaceful” feeling of the trail.
“I work in tech so it’s nice to get away from it and outside for a little while.”
Biju says the group experience has helped him overcome the biggest challenge of taking up a new activity as an adult — “figuring out how to get started and meet other people who are interested in the same activities.”
Biju also likes that hiking offers both short- and long-term objectives.
“My goal is to build endurance and skill to be able to do increasingly strenuous hikes, such as steeper trails in the mountains as well as get into, or at least try, backpacking. At the upper end I don’t see myself going past 3- to 5-day section hikes, but who knows, maybe one day I’ll be able to retire and still be healthy enough to attempt a thru-hike.”